“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” — Season 3

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
January 30, 2007

One of the few spin-offs that actually equals the original in terms of quality, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has another stellar season in its third year. Detectives Olivia Benson (Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) continue to investigate sexually-based crimes with compassion and vigor.

There are a slew of guest stars playing roles we’re not accustomed to. Former Saved By the Bell child actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar makes a heartbreaking appearance as a newlywed who gets involved in the gay porn industry to support his baby and indifferent wife. John Ritter guest-stars as a doctor who may have been involved in his pregnant wife’s death. And Diane Neal–who joins the cast in the show’s fifth season as attorney Casey Novak–plays a cocky businesswoman whose friend is found dead after a wild girls’ night out.

With a supporting cast that includes detectives Tutuola (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer), as well as Captain Cragen (Dann Florek), and psychiatrist George Huang (B.D. Wong), SVU tackles cases so heinous that viewers are never certain whether the detectives will be able to make it to the next case.

Good storytelling aside, the biggest draw to the show are the characters of Benson and Stabler, whose chemistry is based on fierce loyalty and trust. That they haven’t slept with each other is a testament to the skilled writing on the series. The show is so good that a romance between the two doesn’t have to be forced on the viewers to keep us interested.

From the first episode (involving a therapist who may have encouraged her patient to commit a crime) to the last (where the detectives uncover a sex scandal in the Catholic church), the stories stick with the viewer long after the episodes have been watched. The third season ran from 2001 to 2002 on NBC, but time hasn’t tempered the impact of this powerful series.

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